Having collaborated for a while now, Long Beach artists sstray and skuuls have been steady working on their craft. sstray and skuuls are a great pair. skuul’s menacingly cold and hard-hitting production with sstray’s raw, straight to the point delivery make for a crazy combination. With a consistent sound that’s shaping what’s coming out of Long Beach, both music connoisseurs are always looking for new ways to better themselves while holding each other accountable sonically.
Just recently, we had the chance to catch up with sstray and skuuls and got to chop it up about Long Beach’s music scene, their chemistry in the studio, and much more. Check out the full interview down below.
So I guess we should being with introductions, for those who don’t know, where y’all from?
skuuls: We’re both from Long Beach, California. Born and raised.
How long have you guys known each other?
sstray: Strong 5 years
When it comes to the music, how did you guys start working together?
sstray: Before I had even started rapping skuuls had been doing it for a minute. Once I got into it, he was producing and recording everything and that’s how we started developing the sound we have right now.
skuuls: Yeah, and to add to that, I was only really producing stuff for myself at the time so linking up with sstray and collaborating with him really changed the whole dynamic of our sound and the relationship we had in the studio.
When you first started making music sstray, did skuuls shape your style or is that something you developed on your own?
sstray: He had a big role in it. Bro introduced me to new sounds and his beats are unique to him. You know that skuuls sound when you hear it. Starting off making music wit him is what got me where I am right now.
When you were first starting off, who did you draw inspiration from skuuls?
skuuls: One of my biggest influences from when I first started and even still to this day is definitely madlib. I was a huge fan of his production and his Alter ego stuff as quasimoto, that definitely inspired me to start producing and writing my own stuff.
Having produced a lot of stuff for sstray, do you push him out of his comfort zone in terms of allowing him to experiment with different sounds?
skuuls: Yeah 100% I think every time we start a session we come in with the mindset of pushing each other to make something new. We’ll go anywhere from like dancehall vibes to straight boom bap haha, we really just try to capture whatever we’re feeling in the moment.
How would each of you describe a normal studio session?
sstray: Real shit, every time we about to make something I do a dumb ass dance first but I just tell him what I feel or don’t feel like making and then we get crackin’. I usually hold the a guitar when I’m tryna come up with something to say. I can’t play it but I swear it helps. That’s pretty much how our day to day sessions for me.
skuuls: Without a doubt every time we’re cookin’ he’s holding my guitar like his child. We usually always make something on the spot but if I ever have some beats sitting around I’ll play them for him too just to get some ideas flowing. It’s always more fun creating something from scratch together though.
Outside of music, what do you guys like to get into for fun?
sstray: Seems like all I do for fun lately is roller skate. I went the other night tipsy off champagne rockin’ some Jimmy Choo shades like I was famous.
skuuls: I’m boring man, all I do is this music shit. I’ll go play soccer too when I can but it’s been a minute.
It seems like the Long Beach, California underground music scene has been budding for a while now. How important is that hometown support to y’all?
sstray: I think it’s everything because anybody from the city is proud to be here and it’s kinda close knit. So the same pride I have to be here, I want people to have in us and what we do. We about to be known around the globe but how fun is that if your own city don’t fu*k with you.
skuuls: Yeah the support from the city means a lot especially with all the talent coming out of here. It’s a real special time to be from Long Beach I’m glad to be apart of the music and culture coming out of here, shout out all the homies really.
How do y’all stay intact as a rapper/producer combo while chasing your own personal goals individually?
skuuls: Really we just both try and keep ourselves busy and talk about goals we wanna reach, we’ve been in this together since the start so anytime we’re trying to get something done we’re backing each other with it heavy. Keeping each other on track you know.
How has the music scene changed in Long Beach from when y’all first started?
skuuls: Honestly I don’t think it’s really changed much, the only thing I think is everyone’s finally starting to get recognition and getting further with their music.
Individually, what do y’all need to get better at to achieve your goals?
sstray: Overall, just staying consistent in everything I do. from getting money and learning the business down to photoshoots and creating music. That’s my biggest thing.
skuuls: I’ve been trying to get more hip to the business aspect of this industry as well I think that’s what’s really gonna help us get through to where we need to be.
From an artist standpoint, what is one thing y’all both believe y’all can work on?
sstray: Networking. I don’t really do much talking in social settings. That’s something that can take you a long way I’m just too set in my ways most times to care.
skuuls: I feel like I just gotta keep working on my craft everyday I learn more and more. I just wanna get better all around with this music.
Are you guys trying to push a particular sound?
sstray: I think skuuls is. Like I said earlier, you know that skuuls sound when you hear it. Me on the other hand, I kinda bounce from sound to sound cause it’s more fun for me that way.
skuuls: Yeah that’s definitely the goal to try to curate a defining sound.
What’s next for you guys?
sstray: More secrets. Keeping things low.
skuuls: Expect a lot more from us! A couple different things in the works right now.